‘Mom, are you saying that sex is bad?’ Rita asked.
Her mom was silent. She had a far away look in her eyes, something Rita had never seen before.
The noise of the crickets filtered into the room. Night birds shrieked at each other with playful delight as they scampered in the remaining portion of forest that civilization had not encroached on.
‘Ada,’ her mom paused. When she wanted to tell her something very important, she called her by her native name.
‘You know I love you very much.’
‘Yes I do mom.’
‘Have I ever told you something, anything which you later found out to be false?’
Rita thought for a few seconds. There had never been an occasion when her mom deceived her or told her to tell a lie. A long time ago, Rita had eaten a portion of her dad’s dinner before he returned from work. Rita loved egusi soup, with grilled goat meat. It was too tempting to resist. When her dad returned from work and found out what had happened, he called the four children together. But before he could say anything, her mom had fished Rita out. She was the only one, apart from the last born who liked grilled goat meat. The last born was in school, so the culprit must be Rita. She confessed and was given a short lesson in honesty and integrity. Several years later, this lesson remained with her.
‘No, mom, you have never told me a lie.’
‘A man who says he likes you should be patient to know your soul before he goes after your body. Your soul is the seat of your emotions, will, personality, dreams, hopes, likes and dislikes. Your soul is what makes you unique, different from every other woman.’ Her mom paused and drank some water. ‘A man who likes you has to walk through the passage of your soul to get to your body.’
Rita had never heard this before. When she was younger, her mom had told her certain things about sex and men. She obviously didn’t tell her everything. In her 23 year old mind, Ada wondered, what else had her mom kept hidden from her?
‘A man who is willing to patiently explore your soul and get to know the real you will have to make up his mind if he likes what he sees.’
‘What do you mean?’ Rita turned off the television set and moved closer to her on the sofa.
‘A woman’s beauty attracts a man. However, a woman is more than her physical beauty. If a man is sincere about getting married to a woman, he has to know her inner person, who she really is and not just her external beauty. If a man wants you in his life, he has to make sure that you have the qualities he is searching for in a wife. The Bible says that he that finds a wife, finds a good thing. If the man is not ready to dig deep into your soul and unravel who you are, he may be deceived by your physical beauty.’
Rita had a puzzled expression on her face. ‘But mom, the man who wants to get married to me should also like my body, right? He should be sexually attracted to me, shouldn’t he?’
‘Yes, he should be sexually attracted to you. However, you are more than a body. You are a spirit, with a soul and you live in your physical body. The most important part of you is your soul. If a man is not attracted to your soul, but likes only your body, whatever he feels for you will eventually fizzle out and die. What keeps a relationship going is what the man feels for you because of the beauty he has discovered in your soul. Your soul is the reason why a man will stay with you even when you are old and gray like me.’ She smiled.
‘Mom, you are beautiful.’ Rita held her mom’s hands and put her head on her shoulder. Her mom gently stroked her long hair.
‘Yes, my daughter, I am beautiful. When I was your age, I was not the most beautiful girl in my town. There were more beautiful girls. Before he met me, your dad dated a lady whom he met at the University of Lagos. She was beautiful but she was also proud and made your dad feel like she was doing him a favour by dating him. One day, your dad followed my elder brother home and saw me. That day, we spoke for four hours. He came back the next week and we spoke for a longer time. He didn’t want to leave but he had work to do at his office. Six months later, he told me that he wanted to marry me and he did. Until today, he has not regretted making that choice.
‘ My husband saw something in my soul that captivated his attention. He liked my dreams, my passions, my beliefs, my faith in the Lord. He liked that I loved children and didn’t mind travelling with him around the world. He liked that I loved the arts, good music and loved to read good books. He saw the real me and liked what he saw. He liked that I was intelligent and stubborn. Sometimes, my assertiveness got me into trouble with my dad.’ She laughed mischievously and continued. ‘Your dad told me that he had never felt the way he felt when talking with me. He said I reached within him and touched something deep within his soul. It was more than my outer beauty. What he saw and wanted to live with for the rest of his life was in my soul. If a man does not understand what is in your soul, how can he truly say that he loves you? If he doesn’t search deep into your person, how can he truly know who you are? If what is within your soul does not connect with and arouse something in his soul, he is unworthy to touch your body.’
Rita took everything in quietly. ‘So, when does sex come in to the relationship?’
‘Ada, after a man has explored the beautiful gardens of your soul, if he likes what he sees and continues on his journey of discovery, he arrives at a door, marked ‘sex’. There’s only one key that can open this door without consequences. That key is called ‘marriage’. If he doesn’t use the key of marital commitment to open this door, he would have gained illegal access to your sexual treasures. He is a thief and a robber who has no legal right to enter into the vaults of sexual pleasure and has taken what doesn’t belong to him by right. That is the reason why a lady feels robbed, feels used and her sense of dignity and self esteem plummets when she has sex with a man who did not gain legal access to her sexual vaults through marriage.’
A car horn broke the serenity of the night. The gate was hurriedly opened by a security guard and a car drove into the compound.
‘Your dad has arrived. We will continue this conversation later. Go and prepare his dinner.’
‘But, mom!’Rita refused to get up from the sofa. She held her mom tighter; her head still snuggled gently on her mom’s shoulder. ‘Mom, this was just beginning to get interesting.’